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>> A stark reminder of tensions under the surface in the South China Sea. Beijing installing rocket launchers on the reef of the disputed Spratly Islands. A report in state media saying the goal is to keep Vietnamese military divers out. Vietnam is just one of five states challenging China's sweeping territorial claims in the area.
But as Reuters Grent Torot explains, it could be the most likely to end up in a violent clash.>> The Vietnamese have many more islands than China in the Spratlys, with military facilities on them. So the tensions, although things are relatively calm, are never far away. The Vietnamese, they've kinda written the South China Sea into their propaganda script in a very forceful way.
It's very hard for the Vietnamese government to back down over the South China Sea. They're fiercely independent and they have a significant military presence in the South China Sea now, including some Krak Russian submarines. So they're trying to deter China but that's probably the one that worries people the most.
>> As for Washington, tensions over the South China Sea are now at a low ebb. The US Navy used to run patrols close to China's outposts in the area, a challenge to Beijing's claims. But so-called freedom of navigation patrols have stopped under Donald Trump.>> It could be because the Trump administration is wanting Chinese corporation on North Korea.
So as we know on the trade front, on the currency manipulation front, possibly some of the regional security issues. The US isn't being quite so forceful as Trump seeks Xi Jinping's cooperation. But I should add that the underlying disputes have never been solved. So they could kick off at any time.
We need to keep that in mind.>> China says its military buildup in the South China Sea is purely defensive and that it can do what it likes with its own territory.